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Boardman Coal Plant (copy)

The Boardman Coal Station. 

The Clean Energy Jobs Bill, House Bill 2020, is a carbon reduction program designed to protect the economic and environmental interests of Oregon residents in the face of climate change.

As board members representing the 4th Congressional District 4 on the Oregon Citizens’ Utility Board (CUB), we support passage of HB 2020. Oregon CUB was created by Oregon voters via a ballot measure in 1984 to be the advocate for residential utility customers across the state. Oregon CUB supports the Clean Energy Jobs Bill because it ensures minimal impact on residential utility bills, with safeguards and investments to help low income and rural Oregonians improve their home energy efficiency.

HB 2020 is the most important climate bill being considered anywhere in the United States, with its economy-wide focus on reducing carbon emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. It wisely harnesses the efficiencies of using existing market tools while taking an Oregon-specific approach. The energy efficiency investments in HB 2020 have long been a priority for CUB because they save money for utility consumers and are the cheapest way to reduce emissions from energy use. Economic analysis shows that customer savings on energy due to HB 2020 will recirculate within the economy, particularly benefiting low-income Oregon households in rural areas because using less energy leaves more money in residents’ pockets to spend in their communities. Linn County job growth is expected to be about 1% higher in 2050 if the Clean Energy Jobs bill is passed than without it, while Benton County job growth is expected to increase 0.7%.

For customers of Oregon’s major electric utilities, HB 2020 complements the landmark coal-to-clean mandate and renewable portfolio standard, which require utilities to phase out coal and increase renewables. Increasingly, energy derived from fossil fuels is uneconomical. Wind, solar, and battery storage prices have dropped as technology improves and demand for renewables increases. In their planning processes, major electric utilities that serve Oregon markets are analyzing replacing electricity from out-of-state coal plants with cheaper renewable sources due to expected cost savings. Oregon consumers are the direct beneficiaries of this switch from coal to clean energy sources, while HB 2020 incentivizes further clean energy and efficiency investments.

HB 2020 has provisions to protect low-income Oregonians, such as rebates for natural gas customers and rural gasoline customers who may be impacted. Natural gas utilities are required to help customers reduce natural gas consumption, while simultaneously increasing the supply of natural gas from nonfossil fuel sources like municipal solid waste facilities. It also enables investment in transportation electrification, which will enable more Oregon families to purchase electric vehicles. This will reduce carbon pollution, while saving money on fuel, maintenance, and operating costs.

There is little doubt that climate change is affecting the mid-Willamette Valley and the rest of Oregon. Frequent and fiercer wildfires and smoke are damaging health and quality of life in Linn and Benton counties and beyond. Agricultural communities are facing climactic changes and water supply challenges. While HB 2020 is a step in reducing emissions that cause climate change, it also invests in our adaptation to a changed climate. Energy efficient homes and businesses reduce the cost of heating in the winter and cooling in the summer.

The economy of the future will be low-carbon — HB 2020 positions Oregon as a leader as a net-energy exporter, generating offsets by agricultural and forestry practices, and strategies for decarbonization around the country. Our investment in a low-carbon future saves money in the long run and ensures that our children will inherit an Oregon that is prepared for the challenges of the future.

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Christy Anderson Brekken and Theresa Gibney serve on the Oregon Citizen Utility Board, where they represent the 4th Congressional District, which includes Linn and Benton counties.

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